Walk by the brightly lit Sugarhaus at Serene Centre, and you wouldn’t even bat an eyelash at its interiors – comfortable seating and wooden flooring for a warm rustic feel, and at the counter, rows of colourful tarts and a freezer showcasing freshly-churned ice cream. It definitely looks like a homey ice cream parlour, but you would be remiss to dismiss it as such – to the back of the café, a bar counter of just 10 seats, serving as speakeasy-style steakhouse Fat Belly after 6pm, focusing on lesser-known cuts of beef.
We started at Fat Belly one Monday evening, where the menu offered just two no-frills cuts of beef imported from Australia and the US and four sides. Despite the small menu, the team undoubtedly is able to be more focused and execute what is on offer exceptionally well.
Of the two steaks, the leaner Flat Iron ($22++) comes from the cow’s well-worked shoulder, thus ending up slightly tougher than the primary beef cuts. After an hour and a half of slow cooking, the meat is grilled right in front of you and served on a cast-iron plate.
In contrast, the well-marbled Short Rib ($25++) is fattier and juicier. Unlike its usual braised and slow-cooked preparation methods, simply grilling a short rib generally results in the meat being tough to chew – as such, the meat had a much longer cooking time (four hours) in order to bring out the flavours and tenderise the texture.
Both meats have their own taste profile that’d cater to the preferences of different guests – and the juiciness of both is enhanced through condiments of salt and homemade chimichurri sauce.
Even if steaks aren’t your thing, Fat Belly is worth a stop for its sides, such as the Creamed Kale ($5++) and Salted Thyme Mushrooms ($5++). Garnished with parmesan, the creamed kale is an alternative yet delicious nod to the classic spinach side that accompanies steaks. Slightly more bitter than the spinach, the texture of the dish was exquisite, and we kept going until we scraped the bottom of the bowl.
The mix of button mushrooms and shiitake in butter and garlic at Fat Belly is a mouth-watering accompaniment. Topped with some salted thyme, the mushrooms were not overcooked and were springy to bite – definitely a dish that you can’t go wrong with here.
Before heading to Sugarhaus, we realised that another traditional element in steakhouses found its own version at Fat Belly as a dessert – the Foie Gras ($13) ice cream was a combination of the goose liver, caramelised bananas, roasted walnuts and pistachios, and a spoon or two of amarena cherry compote. Utterly decadent, though the compote’s bitterness was not a favourite of the table, the bananas complemented the ice cream and the nuts were satisfyingly crunchy.
We soon turned our attention to Sugarhaus with its tarts, cakes and ice cream. Churned in the restaurant, the ice cream is creamy and filling enough even as a single scoop ($3.50++ for normal flavours and $4.30++ for premium). Those looking to indulge can go for multiple dollops or add a waffle to soak up all the creamy goodness. We had our waffle with three different flavours – Hibiscus Yoghurt, Speculoos and Dutch Chocolate. The Hibicus Yoghurt will give those who enjoy sweet-sour profiles a run for their money while the Speculoos was a creamy treat that featured the spiced shortcrust biscuit without the crunch. The Dutch Chocolate was a delectable mix of chocolate types, and so rich that it truly embodied the phrase “death by chocolate”.
Our favourite tart here was – hands down – the Galaxy Tart ($8++), which sports a space white chocolate mirror glaze, and layered meticulously with raspberry jelly, chocolate mousse and a hazelnut feuilletine base. The sweet mousse blended just right with the slightly sourish raspberry, and together with hazelnut feuilletine base, you’d wonder if you were truly tasting the galaxy with this treat.
Folks who don’t have a sweet tooth, there’s still the Lemon Popsicle Tart ($8++). A hat tip to the classic lemon meringue tart, look forward to the combination of lemon sable and lemon parfait, as well as a thin layer of lime jelly under the white chocolate and the torched lemon meringue.
While ice cream and steak do not automatic bedfellows make, a dinner at Fat Belly and sweet finishes at Sugarhaus is a good time to be had and shared. Make the trip just a stone throw’s away from Botanic Gardens MRT, and revel in this hidden gem within another – with this quality of food, we’re sure it wouldn’t stay secret for long.
Fat Belly and Sugarhaus is located at 10 Jalan Serene, #01-03A Serene Centre, Singapore 258748, p. +65 6314 2247. Fat Belly opens Sun-Thu 6pm – 10pm, Fri-Sat 6pm – 11pm. Sugarhaus opens Sun-Thu 11am to 10pm, Fri-Sat 11am – 11pm.
Top image: Interior, Sugarhaus